Through periods of overwhelm it’s easy to feel lost and stuck. When there are 101 problems finding a solution can be challenging.
Often, the best place to start is by figuring out what you need in the moment.
Finish the sentence:
When I feel anxious in a crowded place, I need…
Perhaps you’re in a crowded place feeling anxious, sirens are going off in your mind and part of you just wants to go home this instant.
But all you need is a moment alone in a quiet place to do something soothing like count, a sensory exercise or tapping.
It takes practice to know what you need, practice to know when to apply it and practice to be able to take space to care for yourself.
But practice makes perfect so it’s worth a try.
Think about all the things that are currently bothering you, contribute to you feeling stuck or just causing a problem in your life. Write them down one by one.
Now go through each of them and think about what needs to change in order to overcome the problem. Then, write it down.
If you’re not sure, give yourself options. It could be 2 possible solutions or it could be 10.
The purpose of the exercise is to remind you that although you may feel stuck, all of your problems have solutions.
An easy way to simplify your life and get into the habit of doing things you care about is to create routines.
It could be a morning, evening or exercise routine.
Lets take the morning, start by thinking about what the best way to start your day would be.
In-fact make a list. Maybe you want to feel a certain way or you know that if you don’t do x, y, z your morning won’t run smoothly.
And so that might mean setting an earlier alarm so you have the time to fit in what you want to do, not watching YouTube or going on social media so you can start your day by just focusing on you or preparing things the night before.
Your morning could consist of a combination of things like: meditation, journaling, reading, stretching, Twitter, coffee, tea, Instagram, YouTube, exercise, visualisation, nature sounds, stretches, podcasts, praying, gratitude etc.
You don’t need to do what anyone else does, experiment and find a routine that works well for you.
We can be so quick to find ourselves and figure ourselves out that we end up taking on traits, roles and habits to help us feel less lost.
We then close ourselves off to experimentation and new ideas, it’s too risky.
In turn this leads to you becoming a person that isn’t really you, it’s just the person you’re pretending to be. You either commit to being that person for the rest of your life or you reach a point where you choose to change.
When you truly realise that the person you’ve been showing up as is not only not the ‘real’ you but also not the person you want to be, it allows all that is not you to fall away.
This then opens you up to you, stripped back with nothing to prove.
After a difficult or challenging life experience whether mental or physical, you end up in a recovery period.
For example, imagine you fall off your bike and break your leg. Your recovery period would be the cast and crutches but eventually you’re walking again. Another example is a breakup, it could take a few weeks or even months to emotionally recover from a relationship ending.
The recovery net is where you end up when you’re not willing to let go of the comfort/safety of being in recovery.
If we go back to the bike story. Imagine, you’re at the point where your leg has healed and you no longer need the crutches but you can’t seem to let them go.
You’re physically ready to ride again but you keep making excuses because you need them when the truth is you’re scared without them. You’re scared of falling.
And with a relationship ending your recovery net might be never committing to one person so that when one situation ends you’ll always have someone else.
The recovery net is the method that we use to protect ourselves from things that brought us some form of harm/pain. Not because we’re in any danger but because the idea of the potential danger scares us so much that we aren’t really ready to make the true leap and risk being hurt again.
I think most people have a list of at least a few things that they can do to improve their days.
Some examples could be exercise, being out in nature, mediation, yoga, drinking water, herbal tea, solo dance party, listening to music, journaling or going for a walk.
None of those things necessarily take a lot of time but they’re things that you have to make time for. They require more effort than sitting on the sofa binging episodes of a show but they come with way more benefits.
So, when you feel like you can’t be bothered, keep that in mind.
Around 18 months ago I created a Pick me up playlist.
The reason I did this is in the name, I wanted a pick me up. But more importantly I wanted something I could go back to.
I’m lucky enough to know how the music I listen to makes me feel and, I curated a playlist of songs to listen to when I am in need of a pick me up.
It is simple yet incredibly effective.
And of course the music doesn’t fix the issue but it reminds me what it is like to feel good and that makes me want to make the effort to make things better.
If you’re someone that enjoys listening to music, I’d advise you to give it a go.
You don’t even need to create a whole playlist but the next time you feel down just listen to one of your favourite songs and see how it makes you feel.
I just googled not being able to voice your needs and there were about 1,220,000,000 results.
Being able to voice your needs is an important part of life. If you can’t say what you need, you probably won’t get it.
If you’ve ever been that person you might have been lucky enough to find someone that gets you. Not in any romantic sense but just someone that understands you even when you’re not able to find the words. That kind of person comes into your life through you being open and vulnerable enough to voice your needs.
It could be as simple as letting someone know that you need space, at first the person might be surprised or not take it well. But over time a good friend or someone that cares about you will understand that at certain times you need to be alone. And it won’t become an issue, they won’t try and make you feel bad or tell you that you have to have to talk now. They will listen and respect your needs.
On the flipside, people that aren’t able to voice their needs might end up falling into feeling misunderstood or uncared for and then carrying that feeling around them everywhere they go. But more often than not, that feeling isn’t true at all. It only feels true because you’re not saying what you need.
One of the best lessons to have learnt this year is how to make the best of challenging circumstances.
I’d be highly surprised to find that there is anyone who reads this blog that has not been affected by the pandemic.
People have lost their jobs, had family and friends pass, experienced financial difficulties, had holidays postponed, struggled to cope because they’re living alone, missed moments with the people they care about, had plans cancelled and so much more.
It’s easy to end up feeling as though life can be nothing more than bleak but it’s important to remember the joys of life.
No matter what is going on if you only focus on the ‘bad bits’ it will consume your whole outlook until you can’t see past it.
Of course you can’t ignore what is going on in the world but you can make time for things that bring you joy and make you feel good.
The answer is in the question.
The feeling of being overwhelmed often comes when we don’t allow ourselves to feel something and instead adopt a go, go, go mindset.
Instead taking care of yourself and working through your feelings, you fill your mind and time with 101 distractions that will eventually catch up to you.
Or maybe you’ve taken on too much, you have a lot going on and haven’t had enough time to rest to keep you going in a way that is healthy.
What ever the case may be, you can’t keep going.
When told to stop or even just slow down we often use the excuse that we can’t. Perhaps it is that people are relying on you or you think there’s too much to be done.
But as it is those things that are causing the overwhelm, it’s exactly what you need a break from.
So stop, even just for a few minutes, it will make more of a difference than you think.